THE IMPACT OFEXTRALINGUISTIC FACTORS IN LANGUAGE POLIC

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УДК 378.091.2’373.5

 

S.I.Shandruk,

KirovohradVolodymyrVynnychenko State Pedagogical University, Kirovohrad

 

THE IMPACT OFEXTRALINGUISTIC FACTORS IN LANGUAGE POLICY

 

У статті вивчається вплив екстралінгвістичних факторів на мовну політику й планування; аналізується ґрунтований на принципах підхід до політики мови і планування, що з’явився в результаті глобалізації та інтересів місцевого населення країн, в яких навчання і вивчення англійської мови має велике значення.

Ключові слова:  ґрунтований на принципах підхід, політика мови, глобалізація, диверситивні контексти.

 

В статье изучается влияние экстралингвистических факторов на языковую политику и планирование; анализируется основанный на принципах подход к политике языка и планированию, появившийся в результате глобализации и интересов местного населения стран, в которых обучение и изучение английского языка имеет большое значение.

Ключевые слова:  основанный на принципах подход, политика языка, глобализация, диверситивные контексты.

 

The impact and influence of extralinguistic factors on language policy and planning is studied in this article. Principles-based approach to language policy and planning that has emerged as a result of the demands of globalization and the interests of the local populations of countries in which the teaching and learning of English is having a major impact is analyzed.

Keywords:  extralinguistic factors, principles-based approach, language policy, globalization, diverse contexts

 

Introduction.The ultimate goal of any government, organization, or institution involved in developing or using language in education policy (in the context of ELT) is to ensure that students can use the language with the proficiency required to enhance their prospects in accessing better opportunities in education, community membership, and employment within their own contexts and/or globally. Identifying the impact of social, economic, and political forces on policymaking decisions on a macrolevel and the needs of students, teachers, and community members within particular contexts on a microlevel, can enable policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to identify and engage with a range of issues that affect policymaking decisions. In addition, it can enable policymakers to predict any possible challenges in relation to implementation and to ensure that the process of policymaking takes into account these issues when developing ELT initiatives and interventions.

The collaborative development of context-appropriate standards is an important step in developing higher quality language programs in a range of contexts where there is an ever increasing demand for ELT. Ultimately, a set of standards developed to enhance ELT in one context cannot be applied to other contexts. The unique sociocultural, political, economic, and historical aspects of each individual country or setting need to be taken into account when developing language policies and ELT programs and standards appropriate to these contexts.

Goals. The aim of the article is to study the impact and influence of extralinguistic factors on language policy and planning.

Some of the issues identified in this article include the impact and influence of extralinguistic factors on language policy and planning (LPP), such as the sociopolitical context in which policy is formulated. This issue is related to the political and ideological orientations of LPP and the use of language policy, especially in relation to more dominant and powerful languages, to serve the interests of particular political parties and social hierarchies. As J. Tollefson states, “language policies are essentially political documents” [14, 87], suggesting that policies serve the interests of dominant groups in maintaining their power and prestige while marginalizing, excluding, and even exploiting minority groups and speakers of other languages. The principles-based approach (PBA) aim to identify potential negative effects of policy by highlighting issues that, if not considered, may further disempower local and minority communities. In the case of English, which has been hailed a global lingua franca and the language of globalization, it is increasingly important to identify and acknowledge the power imbalances that emerge as English is given a privileged position. In deciding to focus on English over other majority and minority languages within these contexts, policymakers are further enhancing the economic and sociopolitical value of English, and disempowering local languages and communities.

While understanding that LPP is motivated by primarily sociopolitical and economic forces, the LPP research focus on the politics of the English language has shifted the gaze of LPP away from understandings about language itself. Therefore, though LPP uses linguistic theory and knowledge about language for designing and delivering ELT programs, the focus on language itself has often been marginalized without clear acknowledgement of the fact that certain forms or varieties of a language, for example, can have more social, economic, and political privilege and currency than others. In addition, access to and proficiency in privileged forms of language can result in better prospects for students and communities [12]. A further issue, which relates to the translation of policy into practice, is the limited communication between practitioners and policymakers resulting in a conflict in perceptions between the two [8].

Classical LPP research focused on descriptions of policy and planning and goals within varied contexts through the use of frameworks such as E. Haugen’s [5] ecology of languages, R. Cooper’s [3] accounting scheme and other frameworks based on understanding the delicacies of LPP from the macro to micro level of implementation. These models are summarised and subsumed in N. Hornberger’s [6] six-dimensional framework, which divides LPP into three types: status (about the uses of language), acquisition (about the users of language), and corpus (about language). Each of these types of LPP can take a formal focus (policy planning) or a functional focus (cultivation planning), giving us six dimensions of LPP. The six-dimensional framework provides a useful point of departure for the analysis of LPP from the macroscopic to microscopic level; however, classical LPP frameworks such as N. Hornberger’s have traditionally been questioned for their lack of critical approaches focusing on power relations. In addition, the frameworks are primarily descriptive in that they do not account for the actual “process of language planning” [9, 87]. PBA incorporates the notion of “language ecology” in an education setting by taking into account the diverse sociopolitical settings “where the processes of language use create, reflect and challenge particular hierarchies and hegemonies” [4, 13]. A principles-based approach also acknowledges that “schools and classrooms and their interactive practices [are] . . . part of a bigger and more powerful political state in which ideologies function to reproduce particular balances of power” [4, 13]. Because English plays a particularly hegemonic role in most postcolonial communities and endangers other languages through its link with globalization, it is especially important to keep these factors in mind when considering the sociopolitical influences that language policy and practice have in maintaining, developing, and promoting local languages (including minority languages) [1].

To further our understanding about how a PBA can contribute to the successful implementation of ELT, it is necessary first to look at some of the major factors that inform LPP. As stated earlier, all language learning, teaching, and other education practices take place within a broad sociopolitical and economic context. These factors influence the development of ideas, theories, and policies that influence what happens in a classroom, with what resources, and how.

Theories of language teaching and learning developed in center contexts, with little influence from major theories of language learning and teaching developed in periphery contexts, presents obstacles to both the extension and development of these theories and their application in noncenter countries. A theory is only as good (or bad) as the data that it draws on. Most of the dominant theoretical frameworks are developed in the West with data collected in those contexts. These theories are then often (uncritically) adopted and promoted in the rest of the world, where the local practices (data) may or may not support them. However, given an absence of visible local theorization, policymakers continue to privilege the Western theories, leading to mixed outcomes.

As R. Kaplan, R. Baldauf, and N. Kamwangamalu [10] point out, language in education policy is a complex process and includes a number of issues that must be considered for it to succeed. Policymakers face the difficult task of planning goals and strategies that are ultimately linked to and informed by larger issues of political, social, and ideological frameworks that function in the context in which the LPP takes place.

The impact of globalization on LPP has propelled the teaching of English with greater urgency and has major implications for the language teaching contexts in which English is prioritised above other immediate educational concerns and over the promotion of bi/multilingualism. Additionally, a lack of communication between policymakers and implementers means that successful practices occurring within the classrooms rarely inform policymaking, and that practitioners have access to policy only as it is filtered down through the curriculum and textbooks to the classrooms. Policymaking decisions should be bidirectional and that within each context teachers (and other stakeholders, such as syllabus designers, textbook writers, etc.) should be able to reflect on effective pedagogical practices and should be able to communicate these practices to policymakers.

The three major challenges that policymakers face when designing LPP interventions include:

  1. a) a deficit in understanding of planning goals;
  2. b) a lack of collaboration between policymakers and implementers;
  3. c) the problem of negotiating between local needs and the demands of globalization.

In LPP the purpose of the policy strategy needs to be considered with a view to achieving particular goals and outcomes. Often the ELT programs’ need to enable enhanced English proficiency and to improve delivery of language programs in local contexts conflicts with other competing agendas by both the government and aid agencies. As T. Ricento[13, 85] points out, language policy is determined by the ideological and political agendas of governments and other organizations, which create LPP strategies. Therefore, the goal of policymakers is often concerned with factors other than ELT and associated with political and ideological issues. To ensure that the goals of LPP support the best interests of local communities, policymakers should ensure that their policies and practices are transparent and the public is given information regarding policy to allow them to participate in the policymaking process. As R. Kaplan [8, 239] states, this includes getting the general public to buy-in to LPP ideas so that LPP can be smoothly implemented and the general public can enter into a dialogue with policymakers regarding policy implementation and relevance. The Australian National Policy on Languages, for example, outlines principles related to transparency in LPP, such as “explicitness and clarity.” Transparency of LPP objectives will enable various stakeholders to engage with ELT practices that policymakers advocate. It will also enable researchers and policymakers to capture (and critique) local ELT practices to ensure that LPP decisions are made based on evidence of successful and empowering practices from local communities.

Policy may not be effectively translated into practice for a variety of reasons. During the legislative process, for example, policy is transformed by political processes. Although the political influence on policy formulation is abstract and difficult to change, the role of teachers in the translation of policy into practice is currently underutilized. Teachers themselves often believe that they have little power to effect policy and do not view themselves as implementers of macro-level policies [14]. Policy is also rarely accessible to practitioners working in classrooms and communities, and the underlying ideological motivations of policies tend to be implicit. Policy is formulated at the level of government, but practitioners responsible for implementation often have access to the implications of policy only through the curriculum and textbooks. Some of the issues around formulating and implementing policy, then, are directly linked to the lack of communication and collaboration between policymakers and practitioners – teacher trainers and teachers. This lack of collaboration is detrimental to the process of policymaking because teachers working in a variety of contexts have access to the classrooms and students in a way that policymakers do not.

Policymakers at all levels need to consider teachers’ successful classroom practices. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that policymaking is a consultative process that takes into account the role of teachers as the point of contact between the educational objectives of language policy and the students. The policymaking process should be inclusive.

Teachers should be able to communicate their experiences to policymakers to ensure that what is taught in schools is relevant to the varied contexts in which they work. Practitioners should also work collaboratively with policymakers to determine policy goals, and policy decisions should be made visible, transparent, and accessible to practitioners and aligned with those goals.

English has been referred to as the language of globalization with a strong emphasis on the fact that English is linked to technology and hence to notions of development and modernization [2]. Although this concept is not unproblematic, it informs a great deal of LPP, which often requires policymakers to ensure that English takes a primary position in the education system at the risk of marginalizing local languages and other school subjects. The complexity of language planning in relation to English is also linked to the fact that the demand for ELT comes from several different sources such as aid agencies, which provide funding for educational programs. Policymakers are in the difficult position of taking all these factors into account while acting in the interest of the general public and representing local needs and global requirements.

One of the key issues in the conflict between the global and the local arises in relation to the notion of World Englishes, which enabled varieties of English to be recognised as “cross cultural and global contextualizations of the English language in multiple voices” [7, 1]. Although the World Englishes movement has helped politically empower and legitimize localized varieties of language in the past 30 years, the inner circle varieties of Standard English nonetheless still claim prominence over localized varieties in many different contexts. The reason for the continued hegemony of inner circle varieties of English becomes clear when the uses of language are considered in relation to the users of language. On the one hand, language is shaped by its uses; on the other hand, it carries markers that identify the users or speakers of that language. The World Englishes movement focuses on users, but, as increasing evidence is showing, the uses of English are determined by academic, educational, and professional communities of practice, which still rely on Standard Englishes [11].

Thus, if ELT is to empower local communities by engaging with globalization and providing them access to global resources, then it must answer questions about the relevance of teaching English, and in particular about what variety of English is taught and for what purpose. Initially policymakers should determine the purpose of English LPP, whether it is to enable proficiency for global or local purposes, and whether it is for predominantly written or oral communication. In determining the purpose of English LPP, they should collaborate with local communities, practitioners, industry, and other stakeholders. Policymakers should also ensure that ELT teaching practices are suited to the needs of the particular context in which they occur. Again, consultation with local experts is key to ensuring that ELT practices are locally and contextually relevant. Consulting with local experts and practitioners will enable policymakers to assess and respond to issues that may arise when experts promote a particular teaching practice that might be at odds with local sociocultural practices. So we can state that global, specialist knowledge needs to be readjusted to suit local circumstances, which will ensure that language programs are suitable to a particular context. When programs are suited to local contexts, they will be well received by the public and implemented successfully by practitioners and other stakeholders. In addition, evidence of program outcomes should be monitored to ensure that they achieve the goals determined at the outset of the policymaking process.

Summary.Language policy and planning seem to be a complex task with a long list of stakeholders and factors that shape it and an even longer one of things that it influences in turn. In LPP the purpose of the policy strategy needs to be considered with a view to achieving particular goals and outcomes. To ensure that the goals of LPP support the best interests of local communities, policymakers should ensure that their policies and practices are transparent and the public is given information regarding policy to allow them to participate in the policymaking process.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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